Anal cancer is a condition in which malignant (cancer) cells develop in the anus tissues.
Stool (solid waste) leaves the body through the anus, located below the rectum at the end of the large intestine. The anus is made up of parts of the body’s outer skin layers and parts of the intestine. The anal entrance is opened and closed by two ring-like muscles called sphincter muscles, which allow stool to travel out of the body. The anal canal, which runs between the rectum and the anal entrance, is 1-1.5 inches long.
Anal cancer can be identified by bleeding from the anus or rectum and a tumour near the anus.
Anal cancer or other disorders can produce these and other signs and symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor:
- Bleeding from the rectum or anus.
- Near the anus is a bump.
- Around the anus, there is pain or pressure.
- The anus causes itching or a discharge.
- An alteration in bowel habits.
- Itching in the rectum or around it.
- In the anal area, there is pain or a feeling of fullness.
- Stool narrowing or other bowel movement alterations.
- Stool incontinence (loss of bowel control).
- Lymph nodes are swollen in the anal or groin regions.
Anal cancer can sometimes go undetected for a long time. However, bleeding is frequently the initial symptom of the condition. In most cases, the bleeding is modest. Most people believe the bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids at first (swollen and painful veins in the anus and a bleeding rectum). Haemorrhoids are a relatively common and benign source of rectal bleeding.
Because anal cancer develops in a section of the digestive tract that doctors can see and reach, it is frequently detected early. Patients with signs of early-stage anal cancer are more likely to see their doctor, albeit not everyone has symptoms.
Anal cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that develops in the tissues of the anus, which is the opening at the end of the digestive tract. The symptoms of anal cancer can vary, and some of them may be similar to other conditions. If you experience any concerning symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.
Here are some common symptoms associated with anal cancer:
- Anal bleeding: The most common symptom of anal cancer is rectal bleeding. This may manifest as blood in the stool, on toilet paper after wiping, or in the toilet bowl.
- Anal pain or discomfort: Persistent pain or discomfort in the anal area may occur. It can range from a mild ache to sharp pain, and it may be present during bowel movements or at rest.
- Anal itching or irritation: Persistent itching, irritation, or a feeling of discomfort in the anal region can be a symptom of anal cancer. It may not respond to typical remedies for itching, such as topical creams or ointments.
- Changes in bowel habits: Unexplained changes in bowel habits may occur, such as persistent diarrhoea or constipation, narrowing of the stool, or a feeling of incomplete bowel movements.
- Changes in stool appearance: Noticeable changes in the appearance of stools, such as pencil-thin stools or unusual colours (dark or black), may be observed.
- Swelling or lumps: A mass or lump near the anus may be felt. It can be painful or painless and may be accompanied by swelling.
- Changes in urinary or sexual function: In some cases, anal cancer can cause urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, urinary leakage, or urinary urgency. It may also affect sexual function, leading to pain during intercourse.
- Unexplained weight loss and fatigue: Advanced stages of anal cancer may cause unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, and persistent fatigue.
Remember, if you experience any persistent or concerning symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis.